A baby’s body is bombarded with immunologic challenges—from bacteria in food to the dust they breathe. Compared to what they typically encounter and manage during the day, vaccines are literally a drop in the ocean”, and Dr. Offit’s studies theoretically show an infant could handle up to 100,000 vaccines at one time … safely.6

It is not the mercury in vaccines, it’s the vaccine schedule that is the problem. Too many shots, too many antigens, too close together. Our children need to be exposed to fewer antigens, less often, so they don’t get complications from the vaccine like autism and autoimmune diseases. It is all part of greening our vaccines.

That is part of propaganda on vaccines from the More Infectious Diseases for Children, a.k.a. antivaccine groups.

What is the vaccine schedule? How much exposure do children receive from organisms and antigens as part of the vaccination schedule? The entire schedule can be seen on the CDC website.

In summary there are 5 live attenuated or altered organisms and 21 different antigens by age 6. A couple of vaccines are added from age 7 to 18, but by then it is too late, your child already has autism and autoimmune diseases from the immunologic and toxic scourging of vaccines. BTW. Sarcasm.

Does the vaccine schedule represent a lot of virus and a lot of antigens? Is this an enormous load on the immune system, sending it spiraling out of control to damage the child? Let’s find out.

Vaccines versus diseases

All data about vaccines from the PDR package insert unless otherwise specified.

  • Hepatitis B vaccine: each dose has 10 micrograms (mcg) hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg).
    • Disease: HBsAg subviral particles reach a titer of 10^13/mL, whereas viral particles range in titer from 10^4 to 10^9/mL.3 At three liters of blood in a kid that’s 3 x 1016 hepatitis B surface antigen viral particles, which have a half-life of about an hour. The molecular weight of one hepatitis B surface antigen molecule is 24 kilodaltons (KD). A child in one hour would be exposed to 7.2 x 1017 KD of hepatitis B surface antigen, which is about 1,162 mcg. Contrast 30 total mcg of hepatitis B antigen in the three vaccines with 1,162 mcg an hour for a disease that lasts weeks.
  • Rotavirus vaccine: 2 mL, oral solution of 5 live human-bovine reassortant rotaviruses which contains a minimum of 2.0 – 2.8 × 10^6 infectious units (IU) per reassortant dose, depending on the serotype, and not greater than 11^6 × 10^6 IU per aggregate dose (Merck vaccine).
    • Disease: there is a high rotavirus particle concentration in stool of patients with rotavirus, up to 10^11 particles/mL. In contrast, the vaccine strain replicates poorly in humans: “Fecal shedding of vaccine virus was evaluated by EIA in a subset of persons enrolled in the phase III trials by obtaining a single stool sample during days 4–6 following each vaccination visit and from all children who submitted a rotavirus antigen positive stool specimen at any time. Vaccine virus was shed in 32 of 360 (8.9%; CI = 6.2%–12.3%) persons after dose 1, zero of 249 (0; CI = 0%–1.5%) persons after dose 2, and one of 385 (0.3%; CI = <0.1%–1.4%) after dose 3.” (CDC)
    • The vaccine results in a much milder ‘disease’ with far fewer viral particles made.
  • Diphtheria vaccine: Each 0.5-mL dose is formulated to contain 2.5 Lf of diphtheria toxoid (Lf is limit of flocculation, 2.5 Lf for diphtheria toxoid is about 25 mcg; SmithKlineGlaxo as DTaP). A toxoid is a toxin that has no toxic effect but still causes an antibody response.
    • I cannot find how much toxin is made in the usual case of diphtheria; the Wikipedia states the lethal dose for humans is about 0.1 mcg of toxin per kg of bodyweight, so 3.5 mcg would be what is needed to kill a child.
  • Tetanus: Each 0.5-mL dose is formulated to contain 5 Lf of tetanus toxoid (SmithKlineGlaxo as DTaP). This is about 2.5 mcg.
    • The disease: The lethal human dose of tetanus toxin is only 2.5 nanograms/kg. I cannot find a direct conversion of Lf units to nanograms. Tetanus is a unique disease. The toxin is so potent that if a patient survives, they still need the vaccine as there is not enough toxin to reliably incite an antibody response. So for tetanus there may be more toxoid than the disease toxin.
  • Pertussis vaccine: Each 0.5-mL dose is formulated to contain 2.5 mcg of pertactin, 8 mcg of FHA, and 8 mcg of inactivated PT (SmithKlineGlaxo as DTaP).
    • Disease: I cannot find a reference for how much pertussis is present in unvaccinated patients. In patients who get the disease after vaccination, “the patients with culture-confirmed Bordetella infections, significantly smaller numbers of colonies were recovered from the nasopharyngeal swabs of the children with asymptomatic infections (mean ± standard deviation [SD], 6.3 ± 3.7 colonies) than from those of the patients with symptomatic infections (44.4 ± 6.7 colonies)”.5
  • Haemophilus influenza type b vaccine: 7.5 mcg of Haemophilus b.
    • Disease: invasive influenza leads to millions of bacteria in the lung or blood or spinal fluid, far more than 7.5 mcg of vaccine.
  • Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine: 2 mcg of each saccharide for serotypes 4, 9V, 14, 18C, 19F, and 23F, and 4 mcg of serotype 6B per dose (16 mcg total saccharide) (Wyeth).
    • Disease: bacterial concentrations during invasive disease are in the millions, producing far more antigen than the vaccine, for the duration of the disease.
  • Measles vaccine: 0.5 mL dose contains not less than 1,000 TCID50 (tissue culture infectious doses) of measles virus (Merck vaccine).
    • Disease: I cannot find comparative viral loads in measles versus the vaccine.
  • Mumps vaccine: 12,500 TCID50 of mumps virus (Merck vaccine).
    • Disease: I cannot find comparative viral loads in mumps versus the vaccine.
  • Rubella vaccine: 1,000 TCID50 of rubella virus (Merck vaccine).
    • Disease: I cannot find comparative viral loads in rubella versus the vaccine.
  • Varicella vaccine: Each 0.5 mL dose contains the following: a minimum of 1,350 PFU (plaque forming units) of Oka/Merck varicella virus.
    • Disease: I cannot find comparative viral loads in varicella versus the vaccine.

In all attenuated viruses, the disease cause by the vaccine strains results in far fewer viruses than the wild type virus. Vaccine strains replicate poorly and are less virulent, but maintain their ability to cause a protective antibody response. All attenuated live vaccines cause less exposure than the disease.

  • Hepatitis A vaccine: Each 0.5-mL pediatric dose of vaccine consists of 720 EL.U. of viral antigen (GlaxoSmithKline).
    • Disease: 2.8 x 103 viral copies/ml in serum.7 That would be 54,000,000 viral particles in the blood (and more in the liver) a day, much more than the vaccine.
  • Meningococcal vaccine: Each 0.5 mL dose of vaccine is formulated in sodium phosphate buffered isotonic sodium chloride solution to contain 4 mcg each of meningococcal A, C, Y, and W-135 polysaccharides conjugated to approximately 48 mcg of diphtheria toxoid protein carrier. Meningococcal Polysaccharide A/C/Y/W-135 (Sanofi Pasteur).
    • Disease: invasive meningococcal disease results in millions of bacteria in the blood and CSF. It is not unusual to see multiple organisms on gram stain, and if you can see one organism on high power, there are at least 100,000 organisms per ml.
  • Influenza: FLUARIX has been standardized according to USPHS requirements for the 2007-2008 influenza season and is formulated to contain 45 mcg hemagglutinin (HA) per 0.5 mL dose, in the recommended ratio of 15 mcg HA of each of the following 3 strains: A/Solomon Islands/3/2006 (H1N1), A/Wisconsin/67/2005 (H3N2), and B/Malaysia/2506/2004 (GlaxoSmithKline).
    • Disease: The mean viral load of 22 patients with H3N2 virus infection was 1.5 × 106 TCID50/mL, whereas the mean viral load of H5N1 patients was 1.6 × 105 TCID50/mL.8 Multiply the number by 3,000 to get the viral load in the blood, every day, for the duration of the disease. This does not include the amount of virus in the lung, the active site of the disease. Far more antigen is present in the disease than is given by the vaccine.

A few of these pathogens, Haemophilus, pneumococcus, and meningococcus, will often cause asymptomatic colonization of the throat during the winter, probably exposing children to more antigens for a longer period of time than the vaccine.

From the data I can find, compared to the vaccines, the diseases lead to far more exposure to both antigens and organisms. If the alleged ill effects of the vaccine are due to too many antigens, or too much antigens, or too frequent antigens, the diseases should be far worse than the vaccine in causing autism and autoimmune diseases. Unless, of course, the effects of the vaccines follow the principles of homeopathy: the less the exposure, the greater the effects.

Antibody potential

It has been estimated that humans can generate about 10 billion different antibodies, each capable of binding a distinct epitope of an antigen.1 Estimates of antibody specificities in an individual range between 1,000,000-100,000,000.2 We have the ability to make 10 billion antibodies and, due to exposure to various germs and other foreign materials, we make between 1 million and 100 million different antibodies.

Let’s say as an argument that you have most of your antigen exposure is by age 18. To get 1,000,000 antibodies, you must make 152 antibodies day. I cannot find how many antigens the average human has made by age 18, but one antibody a day would result in 2,160 antibodies by age 6 or 6,570 antibodies by age 18. We are exposed to far more antigens in the world than 6,570.

If a child is exposed to 1 antigen a day and makes one antibody a day, a very conservative estimate, then the vaccines represent about 0.694% (15/2,160 x 100) of the antigen exposure of a six year old.

If a child makes 152 antibodies a day, still a conservative estimate, then by age 6 the vaccine exposure would account for 0.004% of the antigen exposure of the child.

If a child is aiming for 100 million antibodies, the rough maximum, then to reach that number by age 18, then they have to be exposed to 15,520 antigens a day and made 15,520 new antibodies a day. By age 6 that’s a total of 3,333,333 new antigenic exposures, and the vaccine schedule would account for 0.00045% of exposure.

From another perspective:

A more practical way to determine the diversity of the immune response would be to estimate the number of vaccines to which a child could respond at one time. If we assume that

1) approximately 10 ng/mL of antibody is likely to be an effective concentration of antibody per epitope (an immunologically distinct region of a protein or polysaccharide),

2) generation of 10 ng/mL requires approximately 10^3 B-cells per mL,

3) a single B-cell clone takes about 1 week to reach the 10^3 progeny B-cells required to secrete 10 ng/mL of antibody (therefore, vaccine-epitope-specific immune responses found about 1 week after immunization can be generated initially from a single B-cell clone per mL),

4) each vaccine contains approximately 100 antigens and 10 epitopes per antigen (ie, 10^3 epitopes), and

5) approximately 10^7 B cells are present per mL of circulating blood, then each infant would have the theoretical capacity to respond to about 10 000 vaccines at any one time (obtained by dividing 10^7 B cells per mL by 10^3 epitopes per vaccine).

Of course, most vaccines contain far fewer than 100 antigens (for example, the hepatitis B, diphtheria, and tetanus vaccines each contain 1 antigen), so the estimated number of vaccines to which a child could respond is conservative. But using this estimate, we would predict that if 11 vaccines were given to infants at one time, then about 0.1% of the immune system would be “used up”.5

Compared to the antibody response to the antigens of life, the vaccine exposure and schedule is minimal, a wee dribble of a smidgeon of an immunologic challenge. The ability of the immune system to respond to antigens is vast, with a capacity that exceeds the mind’s ability to comprehend. The immune system is big. Really, really big. You just don’t realize how incredibly vast the immune system is. I mean, you might think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to the immune system. I hear Carl Sagan chanting billions and billions.

Normal flora/Antigens of life

We have, on and in us 10 to 100 times more bacteria than there are cells that make us. How many cells is that? About 100 billion (100,000,000,000) bacteria. That is just our normal fora. These represent maybe 1,000 separate species of bacteria. These bacteria are kept at bay by the immune system. We go from sterile to a complex and enormous normal flora in months. In the first year of life a baby is exposed, for the first time, to all the bacteria of his parents and siblings and some from the family pet and environment as well. Thousands of bacteria that become its normal flora. An enormous number of organisms and antigens, thousands of times greater than the exposure from the vaccine schedule.

The number of bacteria that is your own ecosystem, of course, pales into insignificance compared to the bacteria in the soil, at about a million species per gram of soil, plus those in the water, on your pets, in the air etc. etc. Millions upon millions of bacterial species everywhere you can look. Estimates as high as a billion different bacterial species in the world. And then there are the viruses, the yeasts, the molds, the parasites, the mites. Perhaps millions more.

I see everyone and everything like “Pig-Pen” in Charlie Brown, but rather than a cloud of dirt, we are all in a cloud of micro-organisms. We are also exposed to the antigens of food and plants. Innumerable molecules our body is ready to recognize and respond to with an antibody.

These micro-organisms are kept at bay by the immune system. Each bacterium has multiple sites that can elicit an antibody response. It is not one organism, one antibody. The number of antibodies that the body develops against a germ depends on the complexity of the organism which in turn determines how many antibodies are made against a particular organism.

We use the multiple antibodies made for some organisms diagnostically. For a simple organisms like HIV, we do a Western blot and look for the presence of an antibody response to 8 different proteins. For Lyme, we look for antibody response to 10 proteins. For more complex organism like S. aureus we can make dozens of different antibodies.

Let’s be conservative. Let’s say that we respond with 3 antibodies to each species in our normal flora and we made 3 antibodies to 100,000 environmental organisms, about 100,000 fold less than what is out there.

That would be 303,000 antibodies. To make that many antibodies by age 18 we would have to produce 46 antibodies a day. That is about 5 times in a day what the entire vaccine schedule requires over six years. For just the normal flora, that would be about half an antibody a day, assuming three antibodies for each of the 1,000 species of bacteria, again probably a gross underestimate. In about one month you would be exposed to all the antigens (and more) and make all the antibodies that are needed in the vaccine schedule over six years.

I realize that this is simplified, that the live vaccines result in more antibody response than killed vaccines etc. You want to multiply the vaccine antibody response by a factor of three, fine. Even if I am off by a log or two either direction, the magnitude of the needed immune response to vaccines is trivial compared to the immune response to the normal bacteria found in us and in the world.


How many infections are out there that normal people may encounter in a life span? Let’s crack open Mandell, Douglas and Bennett’s Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, the standard ID textbook, and start counting. You may want to skip to the bottom. I counted those germs that are normal part of human existence or part of routine environmental exposure. Counting bacteria is like counting ballots in Florida. The interpretation depends on the person doing the counting. I didn’t include Brucella or malaria or trypanosomes, for example. I counted primarily from tables rather than text, and given the number of organisms I have to find on Pubmed that are not in Mandell, I know this is a Reader Digest condensed version of micro-organisms that can cause disease. It is a tour of the citizens of my world, what I try and kill every day.

  • Organism serotype/genotype
    • Monkey Pox 1
    • Cowpox 1
    • Parapox 4
    • Molluscum contagiosum 1
    • Tanapox 1
    • Herpes Viruses 8
    • Adenovirus 51
    • Papillomavirus 92
    • BK 1
    • JC 1
    • Hepatitis B 12
    • Parvovirus 2
    • Reovirus 3
    • Orbivirus 100
    • Colivirus 1
    • Seadonavirus 1
    • Rotavirus 30
    • Alphavirsu 20
    • Rubella 1
    • Flavivirus 9
    • Hepatitis C 7
    • Hepatitis G 1
    • TT virus 1
    • RSV 1
    • Metapneumovirus 1
    • Measles 1
    • Paramyxovirus 3
    • Vesiculovirus 9
    • Influenza 3 each year
    • Bunyavirus 5
    • LCM 1
    • Lassa 1
    • HTVL 1 and 2 2
    • HIV 2
    • Enterovirus 64
    • Hepatitis A
    • Rhinovirus 100 plus
    • Norovirus 1
    • Astrovirus 1
    • Hepatitis E 1
    • Chlamydia 15
    • Mycoplasm/Uroplasm 14
    • Rickettesia 15 plus
    • Q fever 1
    • Ehrlichia 11
    • S. aureus 1
    • Coagulase negative Staphylococcus 15
    • Viridins Streptococci 17 plus
    • Streptococcus pneumonia 84
    • Group B streptococcus 8
    • Enterococcus 12
    • Other streptococci 6 plus
    • Diphtheria 1
    • Corynebacterium: 35 plus
    • Listeria 7
    • Bacillus 11
    • Erysipelothrix 1
    • Neisseria 9
    • Moraxlla and other gram negtative diplococci 12
    • Vibrio 8 plus
    • Campylobacter 8
    • Helicobacter 3
    • Enerobacteriaceae 29
    • Acnitobacter 9
    • Pseudomonas 5
    • Shigella 3
    • Salmonella >2,400
    • Haemophilus 6 plus
    • Pastuerlla 12
    • Yersina 3
    • Bordella 8
    • Legionella 50
    • Capnocytophagia 4
    • Bartonella 9
    • Other gram negative bacilli 30
    • Syphilis 1
    • Leptospira 11
    • Lyme 1
    • Clostridia 12
    • Anaerobic gram negative rods > 30
    • Anaerobic cocci 14
    • Anaerobic gram-positive rods 8
    • Mycobacterium 20
    • Nocardia 6
    • Actinomycosis 5
    • Candida >150
    • Aspergillus 4
    • Mucor species 14
    • Cryptococcus 2
    • Histoplasma 1
    • Coccidiomycosis 1
    • Blastomycosis 1
    • Cutaneous fungi (athletes foot) 39
    • PJP 1
    • Toxoplamsa 1
    • Trichamonas 1
    • Babeisia 3
    • Bowel pathogens 17 plus
    • Helminths 15
    • Nematodes 15
    • Trematodes 13
    • Tapeworms 8

A grand total 1,374 potential pathogens, counting Salmonella once. This is, obviously, a gross estimate, probably a gross underestimate, of the number of pathogens that can infect us. Obviously, not everyone is exposed to every one of these pathogens. Keep in mind that each organism makes dozens of proteins and carbohydrates for the immune system to recognize and to respond with a specific antibody. I would bet the list represents more than 13,740 antibodies.

All these numbers are rough estimates, ballpark figures as it were. But accurate for comparison. I watch a Blazer game as I type this. I estimate the numbers in this post are accurate to the same degree as the statement: NBA players are 6 foot 7. I paint with broad strokes, but the picture is clear. The number of pathogens and antigens from disease are a hundred times, a thousand times greater than the exposure from the vaccine series.

Remember the comparison: the vaccine schedule is 5 live-attenuated or altered organisms and 21 antigens by age 6.

I wouldn’t give a child 10,000 vaccines. Or 100,000. Or a million. That is what life is for. A million or more ‘natural’ vaccinations from exposure to “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.” I have no problem with the vaccine schedule. I prefer “to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them”. It is a little known fact that Hamlet wanted to be a pediatrician. There is nothing immunologically special about the pathogens targeted by the childhood vaccines. What makes these infections special is their ability to kill and our ability to prevent them.

What vaccinations offer are small, controlled, harmless amounts of antigens and neutered pathogens, rather than the prodigious free-for-all of morbidity and mortality from natural disease.

No matter how you slice it, the vaccine schedule represents a miniscule exposure to antigens and organisms compared to what people encounter as part of life. Worrying about the exposure from the vaccine schedule is like worrying about a thimble of water getting you wet when you are swimming in an ocean.


    1. “Development of the immunoglobulin repertoire”. Clin. Immunol. Immunopathol. 79 (1): 1–14. PMID 8612345.
    2. immunobiology.arizona.edu/files/AntibodyDiversity.pdf
    3. Mandal, Douglas and Bennett. The Principals and Practice of Infectious Diseases,
    4. http://cmr.asm.org/cgi/content/full/18/2/326/T4
    5. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/109/1/124
    6. http://www.parenting-qa.com/index/Parenting/Infants/Health.
    7. J Virol Methods. 2008 Mar;148(1-2):74-80. Epub 2007 Dec 21.Click here to read Links Comparison between serum and saliva for the detection of hepatitis A virus RNA.
    8. Influenza A H5N1 detection. Emerg Infect Dis [serial on the Internet]. 2005 Aug [date cited]. Available from the CDC website.

Posted by Mark Crislip

Mark Crislip, MD has been a practicing Infectious Disease specialist in Portland, Oregon, since 1990. He is a founder and  the President of the Society for Science-Based Medicine where he blogs under the name sbmsdictator. He has been voted a US News and World Report best US doctor, best ID doctor in Portland Magazine multiple times, has multiple teaching awards and, most importantly,  the ‘Attending Most Likely To Tell It Like It Is’ by the medical residents at his hospital. His growing multi-media empire can be found at edgydoc.com.